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My ex-husband is filing Chapter7 bankruptcy. Can monies he owes me from a divorce agreement be discharged?

Buxton, ME |

I loaned my ex husband during our marriage a large sum of money. In our divorce agreement he was ordered to pay this by a certain date, he was also ordered to reimburse me 1/2 of attorny's fees. He failed to do so. He as then found in contempt for failing to pay. He was given 30 days to pay, if he doesnt comply he was given 30 days jail.He has filedChapter 7 bankruptcy and has asked that these monies be discharged.Doesnt Bakruptcy code-Sect.523-A15 of Title 11. state that money owed froma divorce non-dischargeable?? Even if its not child support or alimony?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Child support and alimony are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, back child support and alimony must be paid before any other creditor, including any taxes owed. However, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow you to work out a repayment plan and allow you to catch up over the course of a 3 to 5 year plan.

    There are two exceptions to the general rule associated with bankruptcy and alimony. In the first instance, an ex-spouse may be able to discharge an alimony obligation if the obligation has been assigned to a third party. Alimony is specifically designed to maintain a former spouse’s standard of living and not to be transferred to another person or entity. Secondly, if payments the ex-spouse is making are alimony payments in name only, he or she may be able to obtain a discharge of the obligation in bankruptcy.

    In many states, you can request an alimony modification if your financial situation has changed dramatically since the original court order following your divorce.

    When filing for bankruptcy, the following debts cannot be discharged. If you file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you will still be responsible for repaying these debts after your discharge. If you file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, these debts will have to be paid in full in your plan. If they are not, the balance will remain at the end of your case:

    Debts you forget to list in your bankruptcy papers, unless the creditor learns of your bankruptcy case
    Alimony
    Debts for personal injury or death caused by driving while intoxicated
    Student loans, unless it would be an undue hardship for you to repay
    Fines and penalties for violating the law, including traffic tickets and criminal restitution
    Recent income tax debts and all other tax debts.

    The following debts may be declared non-dischargeable by a bankruptcy judge in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy if the creditor challenges your request to discharge them:

    Debts you incurred on the basis of fraud

    Credit purchases of $1,150 or more for luxury goods or services made within 60 days of filing

    Loans or cash advances of $1,150 or more taken within 60 days of filing

    Debts from willful or malicious injury to another person or another person’s property

    Debts from embezzlement, larceny or breach of trust

    Debts you owe under a divorce decree or settlement unless after bankruptcy you would still not be able to afford to pay them or the benefit you’d receive by the discharge outweighs any detriment to your ex-spouse (who would have to pay them if you discharge them in bankruptcy).

    There is a tremendous amount of info on the Internet on this topic. Just google your question and you should come up with more information than I have provided here.

    Disclaimer:
    This response is the opinion of the author. It is not intended nor should it be construed as legal advice. It is provided solely for informational purposes only. You are urged to speak with an attorney in your locale to obtain specific legal information about your questions.


  2. Some divorce debts can be discharged in Bankruptcy, and some can't. It is up to you to take the matter into the bankruptcy court to obtain a ruling. If you don't act promptly, you may lose just by not acting, so I would recommend that you get competent legal counsel to represent you as a creditor immediately.

    Good luck!


  3. What you should do is file a complaint to determine whether the debt is dischargeable or not. It would appear to be exempt from Chapter 7 discharge under 523(a)(15). Child and spousal support fall under 523(a)(5) as domestic support obligations.

    [This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]

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